|Ex-Celtic Jason Collins: ‘I, right now, am the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life’||04.30.13 at 2:10 pm ET|
Jason Collins had a sit-down interview with “Good Morning America” that aired on Tuesday morning, and he said that he has received “incredible” support since coming out as a gay man on Monday. With his recent revelation, Collins has become the first openly gay player in one of the four major U.S. sports leagues.
“I think, I know, in my personal life, I’m ready and I think the country is ready for supporting an openly gay basketball player,” Collins told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
Collins’ announcement was featured in a first-person article on Sports Illustrated’s website Monday and will be appearing as the cover story in next week’s issue. Collins was asked by Stephanopoulos if he hopes other players will follow his example.
“I hope that every player makes a decision that leads to their own happiness, whatever happiness that is in life,” Collins said. “I know that I, right now, am the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life.”
The former Celtics center has received a nearly unanimous positive response and lots of support, including a phone call from President Barack Obama.
“It’s incredible. Just try to live an honest, genuine life and the next thing you know you have the president calling you,” Collins said. “He was incredibly supportive and he was proud of me, said this not only affected my life but others going forward.”
Collins also spoke of former tennis star Martina Navratilova‘s decision to come out in 1981, and calls her his “role model.” He added that he could hopefully become someone else’s role model in the future.
Collins, who averaged 1.1 points per game this season with the Celtics and Wizards, is a free agent who plans to continue his career and is expecting continued support.
“From my teammates, I’m expecting support because that’s what I would do for my teammates,” Collins said. “A team is like a family. The NBA is like a brotherhood. And I’m looking at it like we all support each other, on and off the court.”
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘We have to make [Carmelo Anthony] work for it’||04.18.13 at 11:00 am ET|
With the regular season over and the playoffs starting Saturday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and discussed his experience during the Boston Marathon bombing, the team’s matchup with the Knicks, and how to stop Carmelo Anthony.
When the two explosions went off at the Boston Marathon on Monday, Rivers had just finished up his team’s practice and was planning on heading for the conclusion of the race.
“I just noticed people, literally running around,” Rivers said. “Then my phone rang and I think it was my assistant who told me what was going on. Obviously I didn’t have any hardship personally except for trying to navigate through people. What I witnessed more was just how quickly, in my opinion, the city went to work. I’m not talking just the first responders. What I did get to witness, it felt like hundreds, it wasn’t, but it felt like hundreds of ambulances, fire trucks roaring by me because I was on Huntington Avenue, which is the next block. … I saw a guy in a suit and tie directing traffic and saw guys hugging and saw people just trying to help each other, and that’s what struck me.”
Rivers talked about how his team will not be returning to Boston before the team’s first playoff game on Saturday in New York.
“The playoffs start on Saturday, so just the travel would have been hard and we made that decision,” Rivers said. “So that’s what we’re going to do. It’s an extended road trip, basically. But guys, they call home, they check on people they know, so that will be part of it. One of the things that I’ve never let go [of] and I understand more than anything is that athletes have a human life. A lot of times a guy will have a bad game and fans or the media will just want to say he didn’t play well, but you may know why for real. Maybe he had a personal issue at home that affected him, and this may affect us, but I’m hoping this affects us in a positive way.”
The Celtics finished 41-40 and with the seventh seed and will play Game 1 of their series vs. the second-seeded Knicks on Saturday afternoon. Games 1 and 2 will be at Madison Square Garden. The Celtics have had success in the postseason vs. the Knicks, but Rivers said he doesn’t expect past series to affect this year’s games.
“I hope [past history will help], but I don’t think it will,” Rivers said. “It would be nice if it helped but none of those guys or at least very few of those guys are part of that history. In a lot of ways it’s a brand new team we’re playing and they’re really good. They didn’t win our division and win the amount of games that they won by fluke. They’re a good basketball team.”
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘This is the time of year where you really want your team together’||04.11.13 at 10:55 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and discussed Wednesday night’s loss to the Nets, the team field trip to view the movie “42,” and Louisville’s victory over Michigan in the NCAA championship game.
With their most recent loss, the C’s are nearly locked into the No. 7 seed for the playoffs, and will most likely be taking on the Knicks. Though his team’s fate is all but sealed, Rivers said he thinks the last few regular-season games are very important.
“It’s interesting because you’re still concerned about a couple of guys’ rests,” Rivers said. “It’s tough to accomplish things when you’re looking for that. But as far as our practices and our shootarounds, we’re working extremely hard right now on our rhythm, and I think we’re starting to get that.”
In the C’s 101-93 loss to Brooklyn, they did not attempt a single free throw in the first half and were outscored from the line 25-13 for the game.
“I don’t think the officials had anything to do with that,” Rivers said. “I thought there was one play where Jeff Green drove, I thought it was his only drive in the first half, and I thought he got fouled on a shooting foul and didn’t get [the call]. Other than that, it was us. I’ve always said it, that the aggressor gets the calls. It’s human nature and I thought the Nets were attacking and attacking and we didn’t.”
On one of the team’s recent off days, Rivers decided to take his team to a pre-screening of the movie “42.” The film, which is about the life of Jackie Robinson, is being released in North America on Friday.
“They enjoyed it,” Rivers said. “I thought it was a really neat movie. I thought a lot of guys, you could just see their interest in it, so it was a good thing.”
Added Rivers of his reasoning behind the experience: “I didn’t think we should practice, No. 1. But I thought we should be together. I think this is the time of year where you really want your team together as much as possible, just with each other. I didn’t know if it would be motivational, but I thought it would just be learning, it’s a learning experience.”
|Jeff Green on M&M: ‘I’m finding my role’ with Celtics||04.04.13 at 1:07 pm ET|
Celtics forward Jeff Green checked in with Mut & Merloni to discuss his recent stellar play, the difficulty teams will face when playing the Celtics when Kevin Garnett comes back, and the firing of Rutgers coach Mike Rice.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Outside the Lines aired several hours of footage of Rice’s disgraceful behavior during Rutgers basketball practices, including various forms of physical and verbal abuse toward his players. Rice was fired the following day.
“You don’t want to believe it because you don’t want to see anything like that,” Green said. “He’s fired now, there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s in the past, you just got to move on from it. Coach Rice had his tactics of how he handled his players and now he’s suffering the consequences from it.
“When you’re dealing with college kids, you don’t want to kill their confidence, and I think he did that to a lot of the players with his language, his verbal abuse, and the physical abuse from pushing and throwing the ball.”
With the season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo, as well as the continued aging of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Green’s role has changed. He now is typically viewed as the focal point of the Celtics offense.
“When I first got traded here, I didn’t know my role,” Green said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what I was going to be able to do on the floor. So, compared to now, the floor’s just wide open. … I’m finding my role and I’m playing it to the best of my ability.”
|Donny Marshall on M&M: ‘I did not have a problem’ with Paul Pierce’s last shot||03.19.13 at 1:37 pm ET|
In the Celtics‘ 105-103 loss to the Heat on Monday night, Green scored a career-high 43 points. In two of the games that Kevin Garnett has missed due to injury, Green has started and stepped up big time, combining for 74 points.
“From what I understand, [in] last night’s game, KG was in [Green's] ear as well before, telling him to be that guy that he was,” Marshall said. “Your shots are going to be different obviously when KG comes back. He’s not Carmelo [Anthony] by any means. He’s not going to take 20, 25 shots, and it may make it easier for Jeff when KG comes back. If I’m a wing player, I throw the ball into KG, I know heads are going to turn. If they don’t go double-team when KG is playing well, they’re still going to have to respect him. That means now it’s my opportunity, my job to cut to the basket, to move without the basketball, and KG is such a great passer that Jeff Green I think will still get that quality shot. … At times, you have to be selfish for your team, meaning you may have to take those shots. You may have to take different risks when you’re out there, and that’s how you, I think, gain the respect of your teammates and also let them know that, ‘OK, I’m here to help you,’ and not just put everything on Paul [Pierce] and KG.”
With Green’s excellent play of late, Doc Rivers may have some thinking to do when Garnett returns. For most of the season, Green has come off of the bench, with players like Brandon Bass getting the starting nod.
“They tried to bring Brandon off the bench and I just don’t think his personality is fit for coming off the bench,” Marshall said. “I don’t think he’s one of those ‘go get it’ guys. You don’t run anything for him in the post. If you think about where most of his shots come from, they come off drive, draw and kick to that little 16-, 14-foot area. So, Brandon Bass is not going to be one of those guys that you’re going to showcase off the bench. So, I don’t know how you go about bringing him off the bench. I think you almost have to keep them in there and keep some semblance of interior with Bass on the floor.”
With the Heat’s two-point victory, they now have the second-longest winning streak in NBA history at 23 games. With seven seconds left, Pierce attempted a fadeaway 3-pointer that clanked off the rim, all but ensuring the Heat win.
“If that shot goes in and it’s Terrence Williams or somebody you’re like, ‘Still probably not a great shot and he got lucky,’ Marshall said. “If Pierce makes that shot, we’re like, ‘There’s Pierce. That’s his legacy, that’s what he does.’ LeBron James to me is not as good a defender as everyone wants him to be. … You have a situation in LeBron James that people think, ‘Oh, great defender. [Pierce] had to get that shot off quick.’ I really don’t believe laterally that LeBron is that great a defender. There are better defenders in the NBA, but he’s so big and so explosive that if Pierce catches that, pump fakes, I don’t think LeBron goes for it. If he does, Pierce is probably going to take one dribble and step back. That’s what he does. … The shot was a little early, but I did not have a problem with that shot because of who took it, and really what the situation was.”
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I don’t know if I’ve ever seen’ defense like Avery Bradley’s||03.14.13 at 12:04 pm ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday to discuss Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce‘s scoring milestones, the Heat’s winning streak and other NBA topics.
“It’s really cool when you hear names like Jerry West,” Rivers said. “Kevin Garnett just passed the NBA logo, and Paul passes Charles Barkley. So when you hear names like that, you know how lucky you are as a coach that you’re coaching guys like that.”
After Garnett’s milestone, he received a thunderous ovation from the TD Garden crowd, and he acknowledged the reception for a few moments. While that might not be a typical thing for Garnett to do, Rivers said that the future Hall-of-Famer is realizing just how close his career is to being over.
“I do think over this year especially, I think he understands that he has how many years left, and we don’t know that,” Rivers said. “But I do think he’s starting to acknowledge a lot of that and appreciate it, and soak it in, and I’m happy he’s doing that.”
The C’s victory Wednesday came after perhaps their worst loss of the season Tuesday. They fell on the road to the lowly Bobcats, 100-74, albeit without Pierce. Similar to how Rivers gave Garnett a game off recently, he decided to do the same with the captain Tuessday.
“Paul was banged up a little bit in the Oklahoma game,” Rivers said. “I thought just the Oklahoma travel, that was a very difficult trip. When you travel basically four hours, get off a plane and play the next day at 12 noon. … That was a difficult game for us.
“You’re thinking about two things. You want to win every game now. But you also want to be fresh and right when the playoffs start. To do that, with Kevin especially, and then maybe Paul, and even JET [Jason Terry], we have to consider doing it.”
|Doc Rivers on D&C: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett will be ‘great when the playoffs start’||02.28.13 at 11:26 am ET|
“I think they’ll be great when the playoffs start,” Rivers said. “I think they’ll be better because there’s more rest, and our key is to get them there fresh.
“I thought that it may have had something to do with Danny [Ainge] not making a trade or doing a trade. I just don’t think anything was out there that appealed to him.”
Curry, Golden State’s sharpshooting guard, dropped 54 points against the Knicks on Wednesday night, albeit in a 109-105 Warriors loss. The 54 points are a season-high for the NBA this season.
“That was special to watch,” Rivers said, adding: “Some of the shots he was making were spectacular. ‘¦ The way he shot the ball and the shots he got — he’s just a great shooter. He’s the best shooter in our league.”
Added Rivers: “When a guy gets in a zone like that, it’s just hard. It’s so easy to say, ‘Deny him,’ but he’s a point guard, so he always has the ball in his hands for the most part. That’s what makes it so difficult. Everyone else who are off the ball, you have a better chance. But a guy with the ball, in that zone, that’s hard.”